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How Has The Coronavirus Affected Your Business

As of March 14th, everything in the United States has changed. Within just a few days the economy has ground to a halt and it's taken the majority of photo/video jobs with it. 

Most of my friends in real life are photographers and I have literally thousands of Facebook friends in the industry as well. Everyone is saying the same thing; all of the jobs have been postponed or canceled and no new jobs are coming in. Once the virus is under control in a few weeks/months will everything simply go back to the way it was before or are we heading into the next big recession? 

I'd like to know what you think. Below, I've come up with a few simple questions for you to answer. 

In the comment section below, I'd like to hear your thoughts. Where do you live, what is the photo/video market doing in your area? Does anyone have any new work coming in? How long can you ride this out and when do you expect this to be over? 

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Previous comments
Bobby Thompson's picture

I had panels at 4 film festivals cancel. (Not much money there to be honest, but valuable networking) Also lost a guest lecture gig at a University, and demo/workshop at NAB convention. Also had video/still shoots for two state tourism boards cancel indefinitely. Last remaining job is a shoot at New Orleans JazzFest, which I'm expecting on Monday to be at the least postponed until Oct. if not cancelled. As for the rest of the year, I reached out to the agencies and art directors I had started talks with, and 90% are dodging me like a bill collector. :-) Everything is very vague with them, my sense is they have no idea what is going on, so they are in a holding pattern. Only one lifestyle brand is actively moving forward right now. Thankfully it's a bigger contract, but nowhere near what I'll end up losing. Also hearing that they are now trying to push lower rates, using the rationale that there are many more people available. Haven't had that happen yet, but kind of expecting it. Last source of revenue - art galleries. Fairly new to me - just the last couple years, so my work is only repped in a few. So far none are closing, but traffic has gone down. If the economy is suspect, I would expect things like fine-art purchases to be one of the first things people will stop spending on. I didn't do galleries in 2008, so who knows? So far, it seems like the same downturns I had after the bubble burst, 9/11, and 2008 recession. The first two hurt, but I was newly freelance at the time, and stuck to lower end gigs which didn't suffer as much. The 2008 recession hit hard, but I was one of the lucky ones that hadn't taken on a 5000 square foot studio that I had to make rent/mortgage payment on. Plus I was much more established, so I made it through okay. Since most all of my work is done on locations, I've been able to live in a really low cost of living area, and have nearly no overhead, so I can hunker down here for a long time and be fine.

barrie Griffiths's picture

I am in Hong Kong, been in lockdown since Feb, Its a killer for my business and I am just taking the time out to get creative and work on personal projects in the studio. fix my portfolio and edit all those family shots I never get the time to edit.

Tone Sinsuk's picture


marcus brown's picture

I live here in Seattle, which is ground zero in the US as far as deaths go in the US. The government might not allow the economy to crash meaning all those big corps / lobbyist that contribute large sums of money to election campaigns. But they have given a big Fuk you to all small business owners with making them all close up shop for the next 2 plus weeks.

Rama Sivamani's picture

Personally since my first love in photography was shooting landscapes I am wondering if taking a sabbatical from shooting events and things which were the money makers, getting an rv or a campervan and going off the grid somewhere remote and just shoot landscapes until things start to calm down a bit. Obviously not everyone would have the financial reserve to do this but it might be an option if you do. I don't own a house and I'm single with no kids so there is the caveat that I can scale down and go lean and mean for a while.

Davy Devaux's picture

I'm currently in Spain, all restaurants, cafes, and bars have been shut by the government! the country is on lockdown no one is allowed to leave the house unless its for grocery store shopping or pharmacy/medical help. Police are fining people that try and leave the house for other reasons, no visiting people, no outdoor sports, not even walking your dog is allowed.

Harold Clark's picture

Most of my business originates from the Toronto area, I do mainly architecture, industrial and aerials. This year has been off to a slow start, not unusual considering that most of these projects can't be shot with snow on the ground.

While I don't expect business to be as bad as event photography etc. in the short term, no doubt this will inevitably tip the economy into recession which will definitely have an effect. I have been doing this for 45 years, so I have seen a few ups and downs along the way, they are inevitable whatever the cause. From the start I have run the business ( location photography, only rent a studio when required ) with little or no overhead, always pay as you go. If I had to borrow money, including a mortgage, I paid it off asap, bought mainly good used cars, equipment etc. for cash and at this stage of the game the days of mortgages, loans etc. are far in the past.

To those starting out, I would advise hanging in there, operate as lean as you can and be ready for the inevitable turnaround. When you become profitable again, don't blow it all, start investing for your retirement. The years quickly pass and you don't want to end up a Walmart greeter at 80 (unless you actually want to do that ) to put Kraft dinner on the table.

Anthony Beaver's picture

I am so over this coronavirus thing all the stores in my area Which is Garden Grove California have Just about nothing on the shelves.I have no jobs coming in just started my own production company for video and photography A couple months ago I had a couple videography jobs made a little money now everything stopped I had a couple of jobs cancel on me so yeah now I’m screwed.On YouTube I go by BadKarma714

Carl Kristensen's picture

Your discussing the stockmarket. I think that the SP500 will slide down to at least the 1500 area, Thats where I will be looking at oportunitys, but it might possible come down to the 8500 area that is the 2009 bottom. And Your "government" is not NEARLY doing enough. What will happen when all the people that cannot afford healthinsurrance continue to go to work, since they otherwise will loose their job

Menno Ebbes's picture

Dutch photographer here.
I”m from full booked to zero in a view day’s
All events, and other photoshoots are either canceld or moved to better times.
I have low costs and some savings to last me true this year but im well aware that is not for everyone.
Keep safe...

Remo msn's picture

I'm from switzerland and just finished university.
Switzerland has declared emergency state as of 16.03.20. Everythings shut except grocery and drug stores.
So my chances of finding a job now are pretty much zero.
Unfortunatly I have studied health science / epidemiology, so I'm not too optimistc... DO NOT UNDERESTIMATE THIS VIRUS. It is the scariest thing I've seen since the emergence of AIDS.
If you are under 50 your chances of dying of this virus, once you got it, are probably like 0.2%. So, what's the big deal?
The issue is basically if it goes unchecked everybody would get exposed, since unlike AIDS this thing is unfortunatly airborne, so it can spread like wildfire. If everybody gets exposed 30% get sick. Of these 30% approx. 10% would require medical attention. In the US this would mean 9.000.000 people requiering a hospital bed and there arent nearly as many. Which means mortality rate would go way up because people cant get treated. Aka disaster. Just look at the numbers in italy.
Right now I'd say, 2-3 months of drastic measurements will hopefully get the spread under control, so things can go back to normal.

Felix Hernandez's picture

These are unexpected hard times. For us as freelancers, most of our projects and events have been canceled or postponed. But this situation also opens new doors and opportunities. It's a good time to work on your craft and to try new things. I personally have been doing so for about the last two weeks, and have to tell you... The results are just amazing!. In recent days I have received more commercial proposals than in the last 6 months. This emergency situation will pass, and you should be prepared in advance for it... I'm based in Cancun, Mexico but all of my clients are from outside (mostly from USA and UK)

Mutley Dastardly's picture

In Belgium Europe - we expect it to last for at least 8 - 10 weeks - and only when people do as they are told to. After that it won't stop. We'll have to watch out for the possible 2nd and 3th waves. It'll become better between - but not as good as it used to be. It'll take 1 à 1,5 years to full recovery of the economical consequences (until there is a vaccine that can be used).

Pedro Pulido's picture

Tourism agency for photographers in Peru. We organize tours specifically tailor made for photographers.
We're on day 8 of mandatory quarantine in Peru. Army and police in the streets. people can only leave for food shopping, pharmacy, bank or hospital. That's it.
I Live in Cusco, and the entire city has shut down. full lockdown. This city used to get 5k tourists EVERYDAY. so obviously a lot of us depend on tourism.

As for my company, i don't know if we will survive. What i know is that it is extremely painful to get new cancelations every week. Just today, 2 more cancelations for photo tours booked for May.

What do you value most? Your health or your economy ? I think health has to come first, no matter what. This is the time to hold on, do your part and hope for the best!

I have no idea how my life will be in 6 months time right now. And it is extremely frightening. I have invested years in my business and now i don't know if it will survive.

I'm Portuguese and i've thought about returning to my country, i won't lie. But that would be taking a massive defeat and i'm not ready to give in yet.

I don't know how, but that vaccine has to come faster than usual or we are all trully fucked... pardon my french.

Stay safe.

Pedro Pulido's picture

Here's the good news! the Quarantine does work! that is if everybody fully commits to it! Just look at the "curve" slowly being flattened slowly but effectively.